Vivian Howard’s Cheese Ball with Curried Peach Preserves
Yields 1 large or 2 small cheese balls
From chef Vivian Howard of the Chef & the Farmer, Kinston, North Carolina
¼ cup blue cheese
⅓ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup goat cheese
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter, divided
¼ cup roughly chopped pecans
¼ cup chopped dates*
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions (both white and green parts)
3 bacon slices
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
*Don't use pre-chopped dates from a bag. They are covered in sugar and taste like sweet cardboard. Use whole dried dates and remove the pits.
Curried Peach Preserves
3 pounds ripe freestone peaches
2 pounds granulated sugar
1 tablespoon madras curry powder
Zest of 1 lime (removed with a vegetable peeler)
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger (peeled and sliced super thin)
¼ cup lime juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove blue cheese, butter, goat cheese, and cream cheese from refrigerator to allow to soften.
On a baking sheet, toss together 2 teaspoons of melted butter, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pecans. Spread pecans in a single layer and roast for about 8 minutes. Once you begin to smell the pecans, remove them from the oven and allow to cool.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine all ingredients except bacon and parsley. Mix until well combined.
At this point, you’re looking at a pretty loose cheese spread. To prepare cheese to be formed into a ball, transfer bowl to refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Cook bacon until crisp. Let it cool, then crumble into pieces. Once the cheese mixture is stiff enough to hold up, form it into a ball. Roll it in bacon crumbles, then in the parsley.
Curried Peach Preserves
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and set up an ice bath nearby. Make an X in the bottom of each peach. Drop peaches, five at a time, into the water and allow them to boil for up to 1 minute. Be careful not to cook the peaches, but make sure the skin is beginning to peel away from the flesh. Remove peaches from boiling water and drop them into the ice bath. Once all the peaches have been shocked in ice water, start peeling them, using the X as a guide.
In a bowl large enough to hold all ingredients, mix together sugar, curry powder, zests, and ginger. Cut the peaches into ½-inch wedges and drop them into the bowl with the curried sugar. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to sit at room temperature overnight.
The next day, transfer contents of bowl to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring the peach mixture to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.
Spoon a little of the preserves onto a cold plate. Transfer the plate to the refrigerator for a minute or two and test the viscosity of the preserves. You want something that’s the consistency of thick molasses. If you’re there, stir in the juices and the salt. If you’re not, cook 10 minutes more, then stir in the juice and salt.
The preserves will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Alternately, you can them in a hot-water bath according to basic canning instructions.